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New PM hopeful pledges: Truss – ‘I’ll be your minister for the Union’. Sunak – ‘I’ll make Britain energy secure’ | Politics News

The two prime ministerial hopefuls have each pledged new commitments if elected – with Liz Truss saying she would take on the role of ‘minister for the Union’ and Rishi Sunak promising to make Britain more “energy secure”.

Ms Truss made a promise to uphold the United Kingdom as she hit out at politicians in the devolved administrations for playing “political games” rather than delivering for voters.

The Foreign Secretary confirmed if she succeeds in becoming prime minister, she would also be minister for the Union – a position created and held by Boris Johnson.

Her intervention came after she sparked controversy by denouncing Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as an “attention seeker” suggesting she would ignore her demands for a fresh referendum on independence.

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak has committed to introducing legislation to make the UK “energy independent” by 2045 at the latest, as he vowed to ensure there is no repeat of the looming winter crisis.

The former chancellor said if he took on the role at Number 10 on 5 September, he would put in place immediate support for households – particularly the most vulnerable – faced with soaring energy bills, as well as boosting North Sea gas production.

FILE - British Conservative Party member Rishi Sunak launches his campaign for the Conservative Party leadership, in London, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Britain...s next prime minister will take office amid turmoil: galloping inflation, a war in Ukraine, souring relations with China, a changing climate. But not all those issues are getting equal attention as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Treasury chief Sunak vie for the votes of about 180,000 Conservative Party members. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File)
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Pic: Associated Press

He would do this, he said, by deregulation which would allow gas production to increase over the winter.

Regulations governing offshore wind, rooftop solar and nuclear would be overhauled to scale up supply, while fracking for shale gas would be allowed where there is local consent, he added.

‘We are not four separate nations’

In a statement, Ms Truss – who remains the clear favourite to succeed Mr Johnson – insisted she would govern for the whole UK “family” if she gains the keys to No 10.

“Having grown up in Paisley before going to a comprehensive school in Leeds, I consider myself a child of the Union. When I say I will deliver for our country, I mean all of it,” she said.

“For too long, people in parts of our United Kingdom have been let down by their devolved administrations playing political games instead of focusing on their priorities. If elected prime minister, I will deliver for our whole country.

“We are not four separate nations in an agreement of convenience, as some would have us believe. We are one great country which shares a history and institutions, but also family and friends, memories and values.”

Britain's Conservative Party leadership candidate Liz Truss speaks during a hustings event, part of the Conservative party leadership campaign, in Cheltenham, Britain, August 11, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Read more:
What have Truss and Sunak pledged for the country so far?

Ahead of a visit next week to Scotland, she accused the SNP of being preoccupied with the issue of independence when, she said, they should be focused on averting a recession.

However, the SNP hit back, saying she had “a total disregard for Scotland”.

Mr Sunk concentrated his efforts on the energy crisis, also pledging the creation of a new energy security task force and

He said he would take steps to radically reduce energy waste, with low cost measures to insulate millions of homes.

In the longer term, he promised to reform the energy market – which was no longer “fit for purpose” – to cut bills, with the establishment of a new dedicated energy department to lead the change.

Labour, meanwhile, was not impressed.

Ed Miliband, shadow climate change and net zero secretary, said he didn’t believe “the man who dragged his feet for months on the windfall tax, then introduced a massive loophole for oil and gas companies” could “tackle the bills crisis the British people face”.

He added: “The truth is, that both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss just don’t get it when it comes to the scale of the emergency families are facing.”

More than 40,000 BT workers to begin strike action at the end of July, union says | Business News

More than 40,000 BT workers will go on strike on 29 July and 1 August, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said.

The union said the industrial action may cause “significant issues” for those working from home and is likely to have a “serious effect” on the rollout of ultra-fast broadband.

BT staff voted last month to go on strike for the first time in 35 years, with union bosses arguing that a £1,500 pay rise proposed by the company was inadequate to help staff deal with the cost of living crisis.

The former state-owned monopoly is responsible for answering all 999 calls and has been drawing up contingency plans to manage any disruption, Sky News understands.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “For the first time since 1987, strike action will now commence at BT Group.

“This is not a case of an employer refusing to meet a union’s demands – this is about an employer refusing to meet us whatsoever.

“The serious disruption this strike may cause is entirely down to [chief executive] Philip Jansen and his friends, who have chosen to stick two fingers up to their own workforce.”

Read more: BT shows it is not as stretched financially as it was a few years ago

He said BT staff had received a real-terms pay cut as a reward for working “under great difficulty” during the pandemic.

“These are the same workers who kept the country connected during the pandemic,” he said.

“Without CWU members in BT Group, there would have been no home-working revolution, and vital technical infrastructure may have malfunctioned or been broken when our country most needed it.”

He said Mr Jansen had “gifted himself” a £3.5m pay package amounting to a 32% pay increase, while BT’s chief financial officer received £2.2m – a 25% increase.

He said £700m has also been paid out to shareholders.

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“The reason for the strike is simple: workers will not accept a massive deterioration in their living standards,” Mr Ward said.

“We won’t have bosses using Swiss banks while workers are using food banks.

“BT Group workers are saying: enough is enough. We are not going to stop until we win.”

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said management had refused to meet the union to negotiate a pay deal.

BT says its pay award was the highest in 20 years

BT Group said it will work to minimise any disruption and “keep our customers and country connected” using “tried and tested processes” for large-scale absences which were proven to work during the pandemic.

The company said it spent two months negotiating with the CWU at the start of this year.

“When it became clear that we were not going to reach an accord, we took the decision to go ahead with awarding our team member and frontline colleagues the highest pay award in more than 20 years, effective 1st April,” a spokesperson said.

“We have confirmed to the CWU that we won’t be re-opening the 2022 pay review, having already made the best award we could.

“We’re balancing the complex and competing demands of our stakeholders and that includes making once-in-a-generation investments to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks, vital for the UK economy and for BT Group’s future – including our people.”

BT is among a string of companies, including British Airways and Royal Mail, that are facing the most significant industrial unrest for years as millions of Britons struggle to cope with soaring inflation.